Network Working Group J. Postel Request for Comments: 959 J. Reynolds ISI Obsoletes RFC: 765 (IEN 149) October 1985 FILE TRANSFER PROTOCOL (FTP) Status of this Memo This memo is the official specification of the File Transfer Protocol (FTP). Distribution of this memo is unlimited. The following new optional commands are included in this edition of the specification: CDUP (Change to Parent Directory), SMNT (Structure Mount), STOU (Store Unique), RMD (Remove Directory), MKD (Make Directory), PWD (Print Directory), and SYST (System). Note that this specification is compatible with the previous edition. 1. INTRODUCTION The objectives of FTP are 1) to promote sharing of files (computer programs and/or data), 2) to encourage indirect or implicit (via programs) use of remote computers, 3) to shield a user from variations in file storage systems among hosts, and 4) to transfer data reliably and efficiently. FTP, though usable directly by a user at a terminal, is designed mainly for use by programs. The attempt in this specification is to satisfy the diverse needs of users of maxi-hosts, mini-hosts, personal workstations, and TACs, with a simple, and easily implemented protocol design. This paper assumes knowledge of the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)  and the Telnet Protocol . These documents are contained in the ARPA-Internet protocol handbook . 2. OVERVIEW In this section, the history, the terminology, and the FTP model are discussed. The terms defined in this section are only those that have special significance in FTP. Some of the terminology is very specific to the FTP model; some readers may wish to turn to the section on the FTP model while reviewing the terminology.
2.1. HISTORY FTP has had a long evolution over the years. Appendix III is a chronological compilation of Request for Comments documents relating to FTP. These include the first proposed file transfer mechanisms in 1971 that were developed for implementation on hosts at M.I.T. (RFC 114), plus comments and discussion in RFC 141. RFC 172 provided a user-level oriented protocol for file transfer between host computers (including terminal IMPs). A revision of this as RFC 265, restated FTP for additional review, while RFC 281 suggested further changes. The use of a "Set Data Type" transaction was proposed in RFC 294 in January 1982. RFC 354 obsoleted RFCs 264 and 265. The File Transfer Protocol was now defined as a protocol for file transfer between HOSTs on the ARPANET, with the primary function of FTP defined as transfering files efficiently and reliably among hosts and allowing the convenient use of remote file storage capabilities. RFC 385 further commented on errors, emphasis points, and additions to the protocol, while RFC 414 provided a status report on the working server and user FTPs. RFC 430, issued in 1973, (among other RFCs too numerous to mention) presented further comments on FTP. Finally, an "official" FTP document was published as RFC 454. By July 1973, considerable changes from the last versions of FTP were made, but the general structure remained the same. RFC 542 was published as a new "official" specification to reflect these changes. However, many implementations based on the older specification were not updated. In 1974, RFCs 607 and 614 continued comments on FTP. RFC 624 proposed further design changes and minor modifications. In 1975, RFC 686 entitled, "Leaving Well Enough Alone", discussed the differences between all of the early and later versions of FTP. RFC 691 presented a minor revision of RFC 686, regarding the subject of print files. Motivated by the transition from the NCP to the TCP as the underlying protocol, a phoenix was born out of all of the above efforts in RFC 765 as the specification of FTP for use on TCP. This current edition of the FTP specification is intended to correct some minor documentation errors, to improve the explanation of some protocol features, and to add some new optional commands.
In particular, the following new optional commands are included in this edition of the specification: CDUP - Change to Parent Directory SMNT - Structure Mount STOU - Store Unique RMD - Remove Directory MKD - Make Directory PWD - Print Directory SYST - System This specification is compatible with the previous edition. A program implemented in conformance to the previous specification should automatically be in conformance to this specification. 2.2. TERMINOLOGY ASCII The ASCII character set is as defined in the ARPA-Internet Protocol Handbook. In FTP, ASCII characters are defined to be the lower half of an eight-bit code set (i.e., the most significant bit is zero). access controls Access controls define users' access privileges to the use of a system, and to the files in that system. Access controls are necessary to prevent unauthorized or accidental use of files. It is the prerogative of a server-FTP process to invoke access controls. byte size There are two byte sizes of interest in FTP: the logical byte size of the file, and the transfer byte size used for the transmission of the data. The transfer byte size is always 8 bits. The transfer byte size is not necessarily the byte size in which data is to be stored in a system, nor the logical byte size for interpretation of the structure of the data.
control connection The communication path between the USER-PI and SERVER-PI for the exchange of commands and replies. This connection follows the Telnet Protocol. data connection A full duplex connection over which data is transferred, in a specified mode and type. The data transferred may be a part of a file, an entire file or a number of files. The path may be between a server-DTP and a user-DTP, or between two server-DTPs. data port The passive data transfer process "listens" on the data port for a connection from the active transfer process in order to open the data connection. DTP The data transfer process establishes and manages the data connection. The DTP can be passive or active. End-of-Line The end-of-line sequence defines the separation of printing lines. The sequence is Carriage Return, followed by Line Feed. EOF The end-of-file condition that defines the end of a file being transferred. EOR The end-of-record condition that defines the end of a record being transferred. error recovery A procedure that allows a user to recover from certain errors such as failure of either host system or transfer process. In FTP, error recovery may involve restarting a file transfer at a given checkpoint.
FTP commands A set of commands that comprise the control information flowing from the user-FTP to the server-FTP process. file An ordered set of computer data (including programs), of arbitrary length, uniquely identified by a pathname. mode The mode in which data is to be transferred via the data connection. The mode defines the data format during transfer including EOR and EOF. The transfer modes defined in FTP are described in the Section on Transmission Modes. NVT The Network Virtual Terminal as defined in the Telnet Protocol. NVFS The Network Virtual File System. A concept which defines a standard network file system with standard commands and pathname conventions. page A file may be structured as a set of independent parts called pages. FTP supports the transmission of discontinuous files as independent indexed pages. pathname Pathname is defined to be the character string which must be input to a file system by a user in order to identify a file. Pathname normally contains device and/or directory names, and file name specification. FTP does not yet specify a standard pathname convention. Each user must follow the file naming conventions of the file systems involved in the transfer. PI The protocol interpreter. The user and server sides of the protocol have distinct roles implemented in a user-PI and a server-PI.
record A sequential file may be structured as a number of contiguous parts called records. Record structures are supported by FTP but a file need not have record structure. reply A reply is an acknowledgment (positive or negative) sent from server to user via the control connection in response to FTP commands. The general form of a reply is a completion code (including error codes) followed by a text string. The codes are for use by programs and the text is usually intended for human users. server-DTP The data transfer process, in its normal "active" state, establishes the data connection with the "listening" data port. It sets up parameters for transfer and storage, and transfers data on command from its PI. The DTP can be placed in a "passive" state to listen for, rather than initiate a connection on the data port. server-FTP process A process or set of processes which perform the function of file transfer in cooperation with a user-FTP process and, possibly, another server. The functions consist of a protocol interpreter (PI) and a data transfer process (DTP). server-PI The server protocol interpreter "listens" on Port L for a connection from a user-PI and establishes a control communication connection. It receives standard FTP commands from the user-PI, sends replies, and governs the server-DTP. type The data representation type used for data transfer and storage. Type implies certain transformations between the time of data storage and data transfer. The representation types defined in FTP are described in the Section on Establishing Data Connections.
user A person or a process on behalf of a person wishing to obtain file transfer service. The human user may interact directly with a server-FTP process, but use of a user-FTP process is preferred since the protocol design is weighted towards automata. user-DTP The data transfer process "listens" on the data port for a connection from a server-FTP process. If two servers are transferring data between them, the user-DTP is inactive. user-FTP process A set of functions including a protocol interpreter, a data transfer process and a user interface which together perform the function of file transfer in cooperation with one or more server-FTP processes. The user interface allows a local language to be used in the command-reply dialogue with the user. user-PI The user protocol interpreter initiates the control connection from its port U to the server-FTP process, initiates FTP commands, and governs the user-DTP if that process is part of the file transfer.
2.3. THE FTP MODEL With the above definitions in mind, the following model (shown in Figure 1) may be diagrammed for an FTP service. ------------- |/---------\| || User || -------- ||Interface|<--->| User | |\----^----/| -------- ---------- | | | |/------\| FTP Commands |/----V----\| ||Server|<---------------->| User || || PI || FTP Replies || PI || |\--^---/| |\----^----/| | | | | | | -------- |/--V---\| Data |/----V----\| -------- | File |<--->|Server|<---------------->| User |<--->| File | |System| || DTP || Connection || DTP || |System| -------- |\------/| |\---------/| -------- ---------- ------------- Server-FTP USER-FTP NOTES: 1. The data connection may be used in either direction. 2. The data connection need not exist all of the time. Figure 1 Model for FTP Use In the model described in Figure 1, the user-protocol interpreter initiates the control connection. The control connection follows the Telnet protocol. At the initiation of the user, standard FTP commands are generated by the user-PI and transmitted to the server process via the control connection. (The user may establish a direct control connection to the server-FTP, from a TAC terminal for example, and generate standard FTP commands independently, bypassing the user-FTP process.) Standard replies are sent from the server-PI to the user-PI over the control connection in response to the commands. The FTP commands specify the parameters for the data connection (data port, transfer mode, representation type, and structure) and the nature of file system operation (store, retrieve, append, delete, etc.). The user-DTP or its designate should "listen" on the specified data port, and the server initiate the data connection and data transfer in accordance with the specified parameters. It should be noted that the data port need not be in
the same host that initiates the FTP commands via the control connection, but the user or the user-FTP process must ensure a "listen" on the specified data port. It ought to also be noted that the data connection may be used for simultaneous sending and receiving. In another situation a user might wish to transfer files between two hosts, neither of which is a local host. The user sets up control connections to the two servers and then arranges for a data connection between them. In this manner, control information is passed to the user-PI but data is transferred between the server data transfer processes. Following is a model of this server-server interaction. Control ------------ Control ---------->| User-FTP |<----------- | | User-PI | | | | "C" | | V ------------ V -------------- -------------- | Server-FTP | Data Connection | Server-FTP | | "A" |<---------------------->| "B" | -------------- Port (A) Port (B) -------------- Figure 2 The protocol requires that the control connections be open while data transfer is in progress. It is the responsibility of the user to request the closing of the control connections when finished using the FTP service, while it is the server who takes the action. The server may abort data transfer if the control connections are closed without command. The Relationship between FTP and Telnet: The FTP uses the Telnet protocol on the control connection. This can be achieved in two ways: first, the user-PI or the server-PI may implement the rules of the Telnet Protocol directly in their own procedures; or, second, the user-PI or the server-PI may make use of the existing Telnet module in the system. Ease of implementaion, sharing code, and modular programming argue for the second approach. Efficiency and independence
argue for the first approach. In practice, FTP relies on very little of the Telnet Protocol, so the first approach does not necessarily involve a large amount of code. 3. DATA TRANSFER FUNCTIONS Files are transferred only via the data connection. The control connection is used for the transfer of commands, which describe the functions to be performed, and the replies to these commands (see the Section on FTP Replies). Several commands are concerned with the transfer of data between hosts. These data transfer commands include the MODE command which specify how the bits of the data are to be transmitted, and the STRUcture and TYPE commands, which are used to define the way in which the data are to be represented. The transmission and representation are basically independent but the "Stream" transmission mode is dependent on the file structure attribute and if "Compressed" transmission mode is used, the nature of the filler byte depends on the representation type. 3.1. DATA REPRESENTATION AND STORAGE Data is transferred from a storage device in the sending host to a storage device in the receiving host. Often it is necessary to perform certain transformations on the data because data storage representations in the two systems are different. For example, NVT-ASCII has different data storage representations in different systems. DEC TOPS-20s's generally store NVT-ASCII as five 7-bit ASCII characters, left-justified in a 36-bit word. IBM Mainframe's store NVT-ASCII as 8-bit EBCDIC codes. Multics stores NVT-ASCII as four 9-bit characters in a 36-bit word. It is desirable to convert characters into the standard NVT-ASCII representation when transmitting text between dissimilar systems. The sending and receiving sites would have to perform the necessary transformations between the standard representation and their internal representations. A different problem in representation arises when transmitting binary data (not character codes) between host systems with different word lengths. It is not always clear how the sender should send data, and the receiver store it. For example, when transmitting 32-bit bytes from a 32-bit word-length system to a 36-bit word-length system, it may be desirable (for reasons of efficiency and usefulness) to store the 32-bit bytes right-justified in a 36-bit word in the latter system. In any case, the user should have the option of specifying data representation and transformation functions. It should be noted
that FTP provides for very limited data type representations. Transformations desired beyond this limited capability should be performed by the user directly. 3.1.1. DATA TYPES Data representations are handled in FTP by a user specifying a representation type. This type may implicitly (as in ASCII or EBCDIC) or explicitly (as in Local byte) define a byte size for interpretation which is referred to as the "logical byte size." Note that this has nothing to do with the byte size used for transmission over the data connection, called the "transfer byte size", and the two should not be confused. For example, NVT-ASCII has a logical byte size of 8 bits. If the type is Local byte, then the TYPE command has an obligatory second parameter specifying the logical byte size. The transfer byte size is always 8 bits. 220.127.116.11. ASCII TYPE This is the default type and must be accepted by all FTP implementations. It is intended primarily for the transfer of text files, except when both hosts would find the EBCDIC type more convenient. The sender converts the data from an internal character representation to the standard 8-bit NVT-ASCII representation (see the Telnet specification). The receiver will convert the data from the standard form to his own internal form. In accordance with the NVT standard, the <CRLF> sequence should be used where necessary to denote the end of a line of text. (See the discussion of file structure at the end of the Section on Data Representation and Storage.) Using the standard NVT-ASCII representation means that data must be interpreted as 8-bit bytes. The Format parameter for ASCII and EBCDIC types is discussed below.
18.104.22.168. EBCDIC TYPE This type is intended for efficient transfer between hosts which use EBCDIC for their internal character representation. For transmission, the data are represented as 8-bit EBCDIC characters. The character code is the only difference between the functional specifications of EBCDIC and ASCII types. End-of-line (as opposed to end-of-record--see the discussion of structure) will probably be rarely used with EBCDIC type for purposes of denoting structure, but where it is necessary the <NL> character should be used. 22.214.171.124. IMAGE TYPE The data are sent as contiguous bits which, for transfer, are packed into the 8-bit transfer bytes. The receiving site must store the data as contiguous bits. The structure of the storage system might necessitate the padding of the file (or of each record, for a record-structured file) to some convenient boundary (byte, word or block). This padding, which must be all zeros, may occur only at the end of the file (or at the end of each record) and there must be a way of identifying the padding bits so that they may be stripped off if the file is retrieved. The padding transformation should be well publicized to enable a user to process a file at the storage site. Image type is intended for the efficient storage and retrieval of files and for the transfer of binary data. It is recommended that this type be accepted by all FTP implementations. 126.96.36.199. LOCAL TYPE The data is transferred in logical bytes of the size specified by the obligatory second parameter, Byte size. The value of Byte size must be a decimal integer; there is no default value. The logical byte size is not necessarily the same as the transfer byte size. If there is a difference in byte sizes, then the logical bytes should be packed contiguously, disregarding transfer byte boundaries and with any necessary padding at the end.
When the data reaches the receiving host, it will be transformed in a manner dependent on the logical byte size and the particular host. This transformation must be invertible (i.e., an identical file can be retrieved if the same parameters are used) and should be well publicized by the FTP implementors. For example, a user sending 36-bit floating-point numbers to a host with a 32-bit word could send that data as Local byte with a logical byte size of 36. The receiving host would then be expected to store the logical bytes so that they could be easily manipulated; in this example putting the 36-bit logical bytes into 64-bit double words should suffice. In another example, a pair of hosts with a 36-bit word size may send data to one another in words by using TYPE L 36. The data would be sent in the 8-bit transmission bytes packed so that 9 transmission bytes carried two host words. 188.8.131.52. FORMAT CONTROL The types ASCII and EBCDIC also take a second (optional) parameter; this is to indicate what kind of vertical format control, if any, is associated with a file. The following data representation types are defined in FTP: A character file may be transferred to a host for one of three purposes: for printing, for storage and later retrieval, or for processing. If a file is sent for printing, the receiving host must know how the vertical format control is represented. In the second case, it must be possible to store a file at a host and then retrieve it later in exactly the same form. Finally, it should be possible to move a file from one host to another and process the file at the second host without undue trouble. A single ASCII or EBCDIC format does not satisfy all these conditions. Therefore, these types have a second parameter specifying one of the following three formats: 184.108.40.206.1. NON PRINT This is the default format to be used if the second (format) parameter is omitted. Non-print format must be accepted by all FTP implementations.
The file need contain no vertical format information. If it is passed to a printer process, this process may assume standard values for spacing and margins. Normally, this format will be used with files destined for processing or just storage. 220.127.116.11.2. TELNET FORMAT CONTROLS The file contains ASCII/EBCDIC vertical format controls (i.e., <CR>, <LF>, <NL>, <VT>, <FF>) which the printer process will interpret appropriately. <CRLF>, in exactly this sequence, also denotes end-of-line. 18.104.22.168.2. CARRIAGE CONTROL (ASA) The file contains ASA (FORTRAN) vertical format control characters. (See RFC 740 Appendix C; and Communications of the ACM, Vol. 7, No. 10, p. 606, October 1964.) In a line or a record formatted according to the ASA Standard, the first character is not to be printed. Instead, it should be used to determine the vertical movement of the paper which should take place before the rest of the record is printed. The ASA Standard specifies the following control characters: Character Vertical Spacing blank Move paper up one line 0 Move paper up two lines 1 Move paper to top of next page + No movement, i.e., overprint Clearly there must be some way for a printer process to distinguish the end of the structural entity. If a file has record structure (see below) this is no problem; records will be explicitly marked during transfer and storage. If the file has no record structure, the <CRLF> end-of-line sequence is used to separate printing lines, but these format effectors are overridden by the ASA controls.
3.1.2. DATA STRUCTURES In addition to different representation types, FTP allows the structure of a file to be specified. Three file structures are defined in FTP: file-structure, where there is no internal structure and the file is considered to be a continuous sequence of data bytes, record-structure, where the file is made up of sequential records, and page-structure, where the file is made up of independent indexed pages. File-structure is the default to be assumed if the STRUcture command has not been used but both file and record structures must be accepted for "text" files (i.e., files with TYPE ASCII or EBCDIC) by all FTP implementations. The structure of a file will affect both the transfer mode of a file (see the Section on Transmission Modes) and the interpretation and storage of the file. The "natural" structure of a file will depend on which host stores the file. A source-code file will usually be stored on an IBM Mainframe in fixed length records but on a DEC TOPS-20 as a stream of characters partitioned into lines, for example by <CRLF>. If the transfer of files between such disparate sites is to be useful, there must be some way for one site to recognize the other's assumptions about the file. With some sites being naturally file-oriented and others naturally record-oriented there may be problems if a file with one structure is sent to a host oriented to the other. If a text file is sent with record-structure to a host which is file oriented, then that host should apply an internal transformation to the file based on the record structure. Obviously, this transformation should be useful, but it must also be invertible so that an identical file may be retrieved using record structure. In the case of a file being sent with file-structure to a record-oriented host, there exists the question of what criteria the host should use to divide the file into records which can be processed locally. If this division is necessary, the FTP implementation should use the end-of-line sequence,
<CRLF> for ASCII, or <NL> for EBCDIC text files, as the delimiter. If an FTP implementation adopts this technique, it must be prepared to reverse the transformation if the file is retrieved with file-structure. 22.214.171.124. FILE STRUCTURE File structure is the default to be assumed if the STRUcture command has not been used. In file-structure there is no internal structure and the file is considered to be a continuous sequence of data bytes. 126.96.36.199. RECORD STRUCTURE Record structures must be accepted for "text" files (i.e., files with TYPE ASCII or EBCDIC) by all FTP implementations. In record-structure the file is made up of sequential records. 188.8.131.52. PAGE STRUCTURE To transmit files that are discontinuous, FTP defines a page structure. Files of this type are sometimes known as "random access files" or even as "holey files". In these files there is sometimes other information associated with the file as a whole (e.g., a file descriptor), or with a section of the file (e.g., page access controls), or both. In FTP, the sections of the file are called pages. To provide for various page sizes and associated information, each page is sent with a page header. The page header has the following defined fields: Header Length The number of logical bytes in the page header including this byte. The minimum header length is 4. Page Index The logical page number of this section of the file. This is not the transmission sequence number of this page, but the index used to identify this page of the file.
Data Length The number of logical bytes in the page data. The minimum data length is 0. Page Type The type of page this is. The following page types are defined: 0 = Last Page This is used to indicate the end of a paged structured transmission. The header length must be 4, and the data length must be 0. 1 = Simple Page This is the normal type for simple paged files with no page level associated control information. The header length must be 4. 2 = Descriptor Page This type is used to transmit the descriptive information for the file as a whole. 3 = Access Controlled Page This type includes an additional header field for paged files with page level access control information. The header length must be 5. Optional Fields Further header fields may be used to supply per page control information, for example, per page access control. All fields are one logical byte in length. The logical byte size is specified by the TYPE command. See Appendix I for further details and a specific case at the page structure. A note of caution about parameters: a file must be stored and retrieved with the same parameters if the retrieved version is to
be identical to the version originally transmitted. Conversely, FTP implementations must return a file identical to the original if the parameters used to store and retrieve a file are the same.